When you work in aviation, as I did for almost forty years, you have every reason to be immensely proud. Aviation connects the whole world and, despite its complexity, does so with an extremely high level of safety. On top of that aviation is almost miraculously efficient. In almost all of the cases where we do fly that turns out to be the best choice from a climate point of view as well.

The latter is not common knowledge. Quite a few people see aviation as the Big Bad Wolf in the world of climate change. However, that image is based on framing, not on facts. The framing started in the late nineties and continues relentlessly. Which is not surprising, as it is effective. When you don’t care about facts, you can make whatever statement you want and when it is juicy enough you are bound to get media coverage.

Unfortunately, the framing does seem to influence policymakers. Take for instance the recent calls to replace all European flights shorter than 750 km with high-speed rail. As a policy that would be expensive as well as ineffective, if not worse. Not a great combination and an illustration of the dangers of framing.

Perceptions and falsehoods are not a solid foundation for policy making. To vent my concern, I started a website in March 2021. Initially in Dutch only, see the menu item above, but as some posts appeared to be of interest to people outside the Netherlands I added the site you are on now in November 2021. Little will change but it feels good to get it off my chest.

Benno Baksteen


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